William B. Bates was born August 16, 1889 in Nat, Texas. He and his siblings attended local schools at Nat and in a place called Red Flat. In 1910, He attended Sam Houston Normal Institute where he earned teaching certificates. After teaching for a few years, he went on to study law at the University of Texas, graduating first in the class in 1915.
Bates served in the United States Army from 1917 to 1919 during World War I. When he returned, he opened a law practice with his brother, Jesse, and married Mary Estill Dorsey. In 1923, he was hired by Fulbright and Crooker, a law firm in Houston. The title "colonel" was bestowed upon W.B. Bates by his friend, former Governor of Texas Dan Moody.
William B. Bates had an enormous impact on the growth and development of Houston, almost from the moment he arrived. He became a member of the Houston Independent School District Board of education in 1925. The University of Houston was established under his chairmanship. William B. Bates also served the Houston Chamber of Commerce for many years. He was on the advisory board of the, then famous, Bank of the Southwest.
In 1939, William B. Bates became chairman of the Board of Trustees of the M.D. Anderson Foundation upon the death of its benefactor, Mr. Anderson. Col. Bates' foresight and leadership contributed to the creation and growth of the Texas Medical Center. W.B. Bates died on April 17, 1974.
For more information about Col. Bates, please refer to N. Don Macon's book South from Flower Mountain: A Conversation with William B. Bates (Houston : Texas Medical Center, 1975)